In the sixth episode of the fifth season of Battlestar Galactica, Starbuck and Tigh begin to lash out at the crew at the perceived disparity between their experience on New Caprica compared to those who remained in the fleet. The Cylons attempt to find earth and a basestar is decimated by a brutal disease that they blame on Baltar. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Battlestar Galactica.
What are you doing to be, BSG? Why do you make me feel so many things at the same time? WHY DID YOU SECRETLY MAKE THIS A TWO-PART EPISODE AND NOT CONSOLE ME AHEAD OF TIME?
“Torn” presents one hell of a parallel between the humans and the Cylons, giving us an emotional journey on the fleet while handing us a gigantic dosage of Cylon mythology that I have so desperately needed since the beginning of time. I found it rather clever, too, that the title of this episode means so many things to each of the people affected by the events of “Torn.”
We split time between Baltar on the main Cylon basestar and the Galactica. For both parties, what has happened on New Caprica directly informs their next step, though the Cylons prove to be one step ahead of the human fleet. It is PAINFULLY ironic that they are both heading to find earth and with Baltar on the Cylons’ side, it seemed to me that they had a distinct advantage. (Though I do admit to being excited that Gaeta is getting more involved, especially given the last episode.) The humans also set course to find earth, using the notes Baltar left behind, and they finally have a distinct purpose that doesn’t involve Cylon occupation.
The fleet begins training again, too, and it’s through this that we first see that Starbuck is having a very difficult time adjusting to any sort of “normal” life. (Relative to her, I mean.) She is reckless, aggressive, and distant. Which is all understandable, for the record. I think that’s what makes me feel so many ~conflicting feelings~ about “Torn.” (I swear, I almost typed that I felt “torn,” but that is too much right now. I do love a good pun, though!) Starbuck is suffering from grief, from the after effects of being imprisoned, and of dumping her husband. Where is Anders, by the way?
We see that Tigh is hurting a lot as well, the vacancy left behind by his dead wife eating him up inside. What proves to be detrimental to the crew is when those two get together. While I ultimately agree with Adama that the two are doing more harm than good to the crew, I also can’t ignore that those two specifically had the worst time on New Caprica. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. The amount of suffering they went through justifies their cynicism, so it’s hard for me to really say anything negative about it.
It’s weird thinking about it this way because I then feel comfortable stating that I think Baltar also suffered a great deal on New Caprica as well. He did make bad decisions. He allowed his office to become corrupt. Hell, I’d say that first year on New Caprica is what allowed the Cylon occupation to happen so easily: they simply were not prepared, and that is largely Baltar’s fault. Yet I do feel pity and sorrow for what happened after this, and I imagine that if Baltar ever does return to the fleet, it’s going to be the most uncomfortable thing ever. The fleet is not going to see Baltar as suffering, though we know his life was certainly not peachy under Cylon rule.
For now, though, it’s all of this that inspires him to give the Cylons what information he does know about the possible location of earth. Gaeta says in this episode that Baltar possesses a sense of self-preservation unlike anything else. (YOU BIG SLYTHERIN, YOU.) It’s true, though, and that’s part of the justification for helping the Cylons.
And that’s when we are given the concept of Projection.
Justâ€¦HOLY SHIT. As soon as Caprica Six started explaining it, I thought it seemed familiar. I connected the dots just moments before Baltar did andâ€¦.ohhhhh my god. That cannot be true, can it? I suppose the thought may have crossed through my mind a few times, but it always seemed so absurd. But now, with the series about halfway through its run, I’m realizing what a big deal the remaining five Cylon models is. (I like that Baltar calls them the Final Five. That is an awesome term, PLEASE TELL ME THAT FANDOM ADOPTED THIS.) Even further, wouldn’t this concept–that Baltar is an unknown Cylon–completely explain his visions of Six? AHHHH SO MANY FEELINGS! And why can’t the Cylons discuss the other models, and why don’t those models show up before they are used? I AM SO CONFUSED.
As if my brain needed anything more to process, the show dumps two humongous plot twists in my lap concerning the Cylons. First of all, the Cylons can get sick. And while the symptoms manifest in ways to affect their “human” bodies, it seems that the sickness would have to be a computer virus. Right? Unless there’s some specific type of virus that affects humanoid Cylons. But that doesn’t make sense either. Baltar goes to the Basestar that’s been infected near the lion’s head pulsar thingy (I swear I am good with words), and he finds that strange probe object that might be the source of the virus. If we accept that those who colonized earth, the Thirteen Tribe, were responsible for it, then that opens up another unanswerable question: How the fuck could they have known to create a probe with a virus that would infect a being that did not exist yet?
AND THEN THERE IS A CYLON HYBRID. Now I feel weird for having used that term in the past to talk about Cylons because I HAD NO IDEA THIS THING EXISTED. When we were first shown her face, I thought the show had just revealed another Cylon model. But keeping in line thematically with what we’ve seen of the Cylons, the Basestar is run by an organic, living creature. In this case, it’s a hybrid that powers the entire ship, and she speaks in non-sensical phrases and words. The Hybrid is strangely beautiful to me, and I really love the set design of this show. It’s actually fascinating to me to see the plain, metallic, and nearly colorless halls of a Basestar and compare that to the cramped and littered Galactica. It’s yet another thing to show us the differences between the cultures of humans and Cylons.
But are the two that different? The human fleet is dealing with the chaos sown by Tigh and Starbuck just as the Cylon fleet is dealing with the chaos created by Baltar. (I do genuinely believe Baltar had no clue what was there.) Both use ultimatums to attempt to bring order back to their ships. And they both clearly want to find Earth first.
Yet on Galactica, Adama, who has the right idea behind his attempt to stop Starbuck and Tigh from further bringing down morale, may haveâ€¦well. Again. I AM CONFLICTED. Both parties are in the wrong, and both aren’t. Adama certainly should have confronted the two of them. SHOULD HE HAVE KICKED STARBUCK’S CHAIR OUT FROM UNDER HER. Maybe not. Should he have basically disowned her? DEFINITELY NOT. Adama, could it have hurt to ask ONE QUESTION before you barged in? You know, maybe like, “Hey Starbuck, what happened to you on New Caprica?” That might have also been a good question to ask Tigh, too! You know, so you could find out TIGH HAD TO POISON HIS OWN WIFE or maybe that THE CYLONS TRICKED STARBUCK INTO BELIEVING SHE HAD A CHILD AND THEN IT WAS TAKEN AWAY. You know, THINGS THAT PERMANENTLY SCAR AND TRAUMATIZE PEOPLE.
Tigh’s final line is integral to understanding this: he is not the man Adama knew. Starbuck is not the same woman. That is what is the real issue here, and something they all have to acknowledge. The events on New Caprica scarred these two humans, and simple re-integration as if nothing is wrong is not going to help things, and neither is the two of them insisting that others accept their experience as some universal truth. What they went through is horrific, but the others did not experience it and it is not fair to hold that against them.
I should just be hired as the professional mediator onboard the Galactica so that none of us had to see Tigh sob while getting drunk. Michael Hogan is like the best face actor, I fucking swear.
You know who needed a sassy gay friend in this episode more than anyone, though? Gaius Baltar. I understand his horror at the discovery onboard the dying basestar. I do! It makes sense. But Baltar. Look, honey. You took photos of everything there. And the Cylons asked you if anything seemed strange. AND YOU DID NOT DELETE THE PHOTOS OR TOSS THE CAMERA. Might that have been A GRIEVOUS MISTAKE? I mean, it clearly is, as Caprica Six spots the very thing you photographed. HOW. HOW DID YOU THINK THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA. I mean, did you need to lie about that in order to cover up the fact that you STRANGLED A CYLON? Or did your guilt override everything else?
Can we talk about shit getting real? Because Caprica Six knows something is wrong, and Athena and Racetrack discover the dying basestar at pretty much the same moment. Goddamn, what an awful “To Be Continuedâ€¦”
- Sharon becoming Athena is a HUGE moment for that character. It seems obvious that the whole crew has finally accepted her. This is a wonderful moment. Which means it will be ruined soon because BSG doesn’t like joy.
- I’m glad to see short-hair Starbuck return, but the manner in which she did it makes me sad. Please don’t leave, Starbuck. 🙁
- Wow, I actually liked Kat in this episode.
- Adama, you are way into physical manifestations of metaphors. I mean, I totally get why you did the gun thing, but it was a bit dramatic.
- MORE GAETA. MORE ROSLIN. thanks.
- Wow, that fat suit disappeared quickly.